It’s not Blackmail, It’s Brownmail

Man oh man- just when you think people can not possibly get much weirder, here you go.

In a “payback” scheme, the Hussein administration is trying to “level” the playing field for UPS, which is a mainly ground deliverer, versus FedEx, who ships mainly by air. Why does this matter? Because FedEx has fewer onerous labor contracts with unions, who backed the Hussein administration, and now want mo’ money and more control over FedEx.

Now it is the Teamsters’ turn at the trough. Congress might change labor law to assist UPS, a Teamsters stronghold, by hindering its principal competitor, FedEx.

At 2 a.m. in Memphis, where FedEx is headquartered, the airport is humming as FedEx sorts and dispatches many of the 3.4 million packages — 10 million pounds of freight — it ships daily, mostly with its fleet of 654 aircraft. Eighty-five percent of FedEx packages go by air; 85 percent of UPS’ go only by truck. This matters because:

The growth of railroads had put America’s increasingly integrated economy at the mercy of local strikes. “Brakemen in Altoona, signalmen in Wichita,” says Fred Smith, could cripple the transportation network. Smith, FedEx’s CEO, says that in 1926 Congress, to protect commerce, passed the Railway Labor Act (RLA). It ensured that any bargaining unit for workers must be systemwide so that no local unit could hold the railroads hostage.

In 1935, the National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act), which covered everyone except railway workers, allowed organizing and bargaining based on localities. The path to unionization is steeper under the RLA, which requires a nationwide vote by all workers.

—–George Will, Washington Post,  7/18

This would be bad enough for FedEx, since it faces a threat of being hamstrung by every rinky- dink local union that figures it needs mo’ money, but apparently every organization wants a bite of FedEx’s butt- people you might think are friends turn out to be whores themselves, and sell their allegiance for money- you say mercenary, I say whore.

The American Conservative Union asked FedEx for a check for $2 million to $3 million in return for the group’s endorsement in a bitter legislative dispute, then flipped and sided with UPS after FedEx refused to pay.

For the $2 million+, ACU offered a range of services that included: “Producing op-eds and articles written by ACU’s Chairman David Keene and / or other members of the ACU’s board of directors. (Note that Mr. Keene writes a weekly column that appears in The Hill.)”

The conservative group’s remarkable demand — black-and-white proof of the longtime Washington practice known as “pay for play” — was contained in a private letter to FedEx that was provided to POLITICO.

 The letter exposes the practice by some political interest groups of taking stands not for reasons of pure principle, as their members and supporters might assume, but also in part because a sponsor is paying big money.


In 1981, UPS began air services and in the 1990s it tried to be put under the RLA. In 1993 UPS said all its operations, “including ground operations,” are properly subject to the RLA “because the ground operations are part of the air service.” FedEx supported UPS’ efforts, even though the vast majority of UPS parcels never go on an airplane, whereas FedEx’s trucking operations exist to feed its air fleet and distribute what it carries.

FedEx characterizes itself as the “world’s most effective airline” and UPS as “a 100-year old trucking company.” FedEx, Smith insists, is not anti-union; its pilots are unionized. He says that the pay and benefits for its drivers are, on average, higher than those of UPS drivers, and that new FedEx drivers must wait only three months to be eligible for benefits whereas UPS drivers must wait a year. Nevertheless, today’s Democratic majority in Congress, with UPS now aligned with the Teamsters, wants to put FedEx’s ground pickup and delivery operations under the NLRA, thereby making FedEx’s entire integrated system susceptible to disruption by local disputes.

FedEx characterizes what Congress might do for UPS as the “Brown Bailout.” But properly used, “bailout” denotes a rescue of an economic entity from financial distress. Although UPS is suffering from the recession, so is FedEx. Furthermore, UPS, whose revenue is 36 percent more than FedEx’s, began advocating this injury to FedEx long before this recession.

What UPS is doing is called rent-seeking — bending public power for private advantage by hindering a competitor. This practice is banal but can have entertaining ricochets:

If Congress makes FedEx’s operations more precarious by changing the law to make it easier for local disputes to cripple its operations, Smith says a multibillion-dollar order for 15 Boeing 777s will be automatically canceled. One of the unions lobbying on behalf of UPS and the Teamsters is the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, whose members make 777s.

—- George Will, Washington Post  7/18

I just have to shake my head at the complete and utter stupidity of unions- the saying “cut off your nose to spite your face” must have been coined about the ridiculous actions of these unions, but to then have a Conservative group tearing like piranhas at the fresh meat of FedEx, hoping to get money for their endorsement is just cynical in the extreme, and cannot help the economy, or any other aspect of life in the United States, it’s just lining the pockets of white collar extortionists. 

The unions can be excused- they are the village idiots here.

It’s the so- called “Conservatives” that I find to be criminally liable and totally without morals.

And that is inexcusable. 


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2 Responses to “It’s not Blackmail, It’s Brownmail”

  1. Blake says:

    You have to excuse the unions- they are dinosaurs, and trying to stay alive after losing 3/4 of their membership over the years, but there is NO excuse for conservatives to be mercenaries like this.
    The ideal is less unions, not more- if you can work without paying onerous “dues” to an entity that just extorts money out of its members, this is a good thing.

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